Monday, October 18, 2010

Fat Talk Free Week

This week is marks the third annual Fat Talk Free Week which was created by the sorority Delta Delta Delta.  The week, "is a public awareness effort born from our award-winning body image education and eating disorders program, Reflections."  The original program, Reflections, was established to help promote a positive body image and prevent eating disorders.

In honor of this week I'm going to share some of my personal history with regards to weight loss because I feel its is important to realize that we all struggle with body issues; even dietitians.

As a preceptor at the VA in Los Angeles, I get the opportunity to work with a lot of interns who are working hard to become dietitians.  They are a motivated group and will be great colleagues one day.  As interns they spend time with me working in our weight management program.  For many it is the first chance that they've had to counsel someone who is struggling with losing weight.  Often after a session they come to me and say, "Wow that wasn't what I expected."  After discussing the session they realize that what I told them at the start of the rotation is really true: losing weight is never just about the food.  It's about almost everything else, but almost never just about the food.

When I weighed over 300 lbs. I don't think I was ever unhappier in my life, but the truth is that even before I started to gain weight during college, I was never really happy with myself.  I had great friends, close relationships with my family, but when I looked in my mirror, I never liked what I saw. 

As I got older, food became my comfort for any and all emotions.  No matter what I was feeling, it could be soothed or celebrated with food.  As the weight came on, my image of myself sagged.  On the outside I was the happy fat guy.  Quick with a joke but inside I was crying; struggling with the reality that I hated the direction my life was going in.  Soon I realized that I had created the perfect downward spiral for myself.  I'd eat, look at myself after and get upset--at my weakness, my lack of control and my ugly body.  To cope with those emotions, I ate and then the emotions came back and so on and so on. 

Eventually I realized that enough was enough and that I had to change.  I knew that if I was ever going to be successful with losing weight I had to tackle the emotions and image of myself to really live a healthier life.  Well as you might suspect, I lost the weight.  That was they easy part.  What has taken much longer to change and what I struggle with every day is the image I have about myself.  I still look at myself in the mirror and I see that fat guy from 10 years ago.  I am still not happy with my body.  I see flaws, imperfections, rolls of fat but what IS different is I am comfortable those flaws.  I like who I am and I know where I've come from and the progress I've made.  Do I still cope with food? Yes but not like before.  But I'm not perfect and at my darkest moments, when I'm at my lowest, food is my friend and punishment.  I won't lie, there are times I eat with anger but I work hard to stop myself 10 steps before I get to this point but to be honest, I'm not perfect.

As a dietitian, I am ashamed to admit that I don't have the perfect relationship with food but I'm also proud to admit that this is who I am.  I am flawed but I have learned to embrace the things that make me me. 

I am thankful for this career.  I am so happy that I get to work with others who are losing weight.  I know that why and what they eat is not always about the food.  It's about the emotions too.  To successfully lose weight, eat and live healthfully, you need to change the way you think about food.  It's why I'm drawn to the notions of mindful eating and intuitive eating.  Along with changing how you eat, you also need to change how you see yourself. 

So in honor of Fat Talk Free week, I'm pledging to change how I talk to myself.  I'm pleding to be kinder to me and kinder to my emotions.  I am a work in progress.  What are you going to do to stop the Fat Talk and change how you see yourself?

2 comments:

  1. This is amazing, Aaron. I'm so proud of you...both inside and out.

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  2. Thanks so much for this post, Aaron. You are so right - "losing weight is never just about the food. It's about almost everything else, but almost never just about the food." Such a refreshing, honest, and thoughtful post to read :)

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